Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Onto bigger and better things for 2010! I have officially moved this blog over to Wordpress. I have updated the new location a couple of times for you have things to read and see!

You can find it HERE.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2010 and twelve days in!

Only twelve days into the new year and what is not going awesome?! I'm sure there lurks hardships and obstacles close by, but that's apart of life and one must be ready to persevere and overcome. I encourage and empower you to do so!

By the way, I truly appreciate all of the readers of this blog. The amount of readers (that's YOU!) has doubled only over the past quarter,!!

Now, get to shooting, retouching, interacting, and infecting the world around yourself with positive and healthy energy!

MUA/Hair: Kate Carroll
Model: Miss Ashley
(Amazing team!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas at Riverwest

In my last post I shared about Imago Dei Church and how they served the poor in downtown Peoria.

While part of the church was serving the the dinner downtown, another part of the church was having a Christmas gathering at Riverwest, an apartment complex devoted to income restricted families. A step up from the poor, per say.

When I woke up Sunday morning, (after sleeping 16 hours!) I had the opportunity to help load the baskets to move them to the Riverwest area. (I didn't shoot images until 3pm that afternoon when the gathering took place.) I thought about how much work it would be to put these baskets together. Someone had to decide what to get, where to get it, how much to get, where to get that much of it and fill them all. Makes my help of loading the baskets rather petty, but my hand was apart of something bigger. And, that is what the church is much about. Working together to make a difference in the community around.

There was also a bag made for each child filled with gifts. I'm not sure what was inside, I didn't get one. I'm only the photographer. ;D
Each bag had the child's name on it. The excitement of them coming up to a bag as big as them was an amazing thing to watch and be apart of.

Smiles, hopping, dancing, all happened when the kids name were called, one by one, to come up and snag their gift. Some were big enough to carry them, others were not. A few allowed mom to take their bag while others literately dragged them back to their chairs to open them.

It was adorable to watch as 3 little brothers (pun not intended) came up together. I could tell by how they walked together that they had a brotherly love for each other. They stuck by each others side, so close their shoulders were almost always touching. It's feels good to see unity in young siblings.

Well, maybe they were only terrified. *shrugs*

Some ignored me because they had gifts coming while others didn't want to leave without a picture. It's these smiles that drive people to serve. It's a reward in itself. A reward that isn't money, it isn't fame, it's not even a pat on the back.

It's a lot of work that's done knowing that what is being done goes beyond the physical action and into the heart and mind of those being served.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Serving the Poor

Imago Dei Church located downtown Peoria, IL prepared an extravagant dinner and invited many special guest to fill the seats, the poor.

I'm much impressed with the work the people at Imago Dei have done and are doing. I attend there on occasion and there is always a positive impact made on me when leaving. There are many upright people there. Real people doing real things.

Yes, that's me...the white guy.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Prayer Wall

A giant print of the Last Supper took up the entire stage of the church behind the pastor. His words were spoken effectively and with precision.

The ears of 1,000+ people were listening.

This resulted in hundreds writing their prayers on a (provided) post-it note and placed it onto the giant print.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Photography Workshop - Peoria, Illinois 2010

I'm much excited to kick off 2010 with the Peoria Supershoots event. This has been one of those pillar events that I can't imagine missing. The amount of information that is shared within one studio over two days is practically endless. It would be rather difficult to walk away without learning and improving your skills.

The environment is relaxed with music and drinks and many people with different backgrounds in photography. There are 6+ studio setups where you may work in and alter. If you don't know how, there will be several mentors there to help you along in setting up and metering many different lighting setups.

I happen to be a mentor at this event, so if you would want to work together, come, and make it happen.

This is Lauren being professional, rocking the camera, and looking amazing as she always does. Thanks girl!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

This ain't yur typical mid-west type of fotograph!

I retouched for six hours today and felt that I would share my efforts with you. Hope you don't mind. ;p

***click image for full size***

Actually, this image wasn't included in the six hours of retouching. This was my fun work after the other work.

I opened this image and stared at it for a minute or three and then said "DONE!" Easiest retouch ever. I enjoy retouching my own work because it helps me to pay attention to capturing better images for I don't have to retouch them that much.

Someone asked me the other day if I was a professional photographer. I was confused by the word 'professional' and replied "I'm a photographer." They understood something. Either that I didn't consider myself professional (hope not) or that I didn't care much for the use of extra titles. 'Professional' would indicate popularity and/or getting paid really well, I think. I don't really know. Anyhow, next time I will say "YES, I AM!" We are what people believe we are.

The St. Pete/Tampa Supershoots event was a blast. Great people there and lots of opportunity to capture images that have nothing to do with the shooting on a beach!

A big thanks to Tiffney for being a bright spirit during our shooting time. You rocked it!!

There is a Supershoots event coming up in January 9-10 (2010), here in Peoria, IL. I will be there for the two days mentoring and also instructing a 2 hour course on digital retouching and post production techniques. If you are interested, please write me at

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Band Photography on Location

Last weekend I had the honor of shooting with a local Chicago band, "Lady Parasyte." (Shot in Chicago)

We called ahead several locations before coming to a two sided bar, one side that was open all day, and the other side didn't open until later at night. So, we asked to shoot for a few hours and they said yes. Totally awesome location and very generous of the owner to allow us to shoot for several hours at their place of business.

This was the first shot out of post. Here is a rundown of my thought process and the setup...

1: F-STOP Decision
I started by wanting to shoot at 2.8 for I could keep the subject and the background separated as much as possible. I found my exposure to be f/2.8 @ 1/50 ISO400. (17mm...with my 20D that is about 35mm) But, of course the lighting on the subjects wasn't that great. It was all from above them. So, I needed to use a strobe to throw light onto their faces.

2: Strobe Light
I placed a strobe on a stand way up high to the right of me and pointed it down towards the subjects. I put it high for the subjects shadows would be on the ground and not behind them. I metered it a bit higher that f/2.8 (f/3.5?) for it would show up in the image. It looked okay, but the light could be more focused.

3: Light Modification
I added a 20 degree grid to the strobe for it would focus tighter on the subjects and not spill too much around them. Perfect! It looked much better. *TEST SHOT* Okay, it's all looking good except that the bottom part of the image had lots of dark areas in it. I was loosing detail.

4: Fill Light
I added another strobe with a silver umbrella about 8 feet behind me for a fill light. This alleviated the shadows getting plugged up, but also made the entire image brighter. Since I was basing my exposure slightly to the left, that was okay by me. *CLICK* There's it is.

5: Post Production
I desaturated all colors except for red and strengthened the vignette my grid strobe was already making.

I'll be shooting in St. Pete, Florida for the weekend.
Happy Shooting!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

HdR Photography with Effects

(click image for larger view)

I was in Knoxville, TN last weekend soaking up lumen into my color filter array by way of bracketing on a tripod resulting in high dynamic range imagery which processed with computer code that combined the data from multiple captured photodiodes.

The word "com-put-er" above totally lost its futuristic linguistic implication in the past ten years. I can't say computer and feel awesome anymore. What's a new word that is cool now? OH OH!! iPhone. No, that's not even cool anymore. Hooooow abooout ANDRIOD! It's making a comeback in the cell phone/operating system word. Make's me think of DANGER, WIL ROBINSON!

OH CRAP. This is my photography blog. I probably should say something about photography.

Ok. So, this image I shot above was 3 total images shot using a tripod. I set my camera on burst mode and set bracketing to +/-2 stops. I then put on the camera's self timer.

Depress the shutter and ten seconds later the camera will automatically shoot three images, all with different shutter speeds. That's it. Well, for the field anyway.

Once in post I used the popular HdR software Photomatix (which I always mess up saying it as PhotoMATRIX..hey, I liked that movie!) From the HdR software I export as a 16-BIT TIFF and then open the TIFF in Photoshop. If you haven't heard of may be a total idiot. Seriously, my first word as a child was "fothostot." I know, I was SO close even then!

ANYWAY, moving on...

In Photoshop I used two different soft-light layers of images of metal I found laying around. Then, I added an intense frame I had in a frame library. (not sure the name of it, sorry) You almost can't go wrong with insane borders; it really gets the attention off any mistakes made in the photography. ;D

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wedding Photography - Outdoor Strobe Flash

I'm home and tiiiiired! I shot a wedding most of the day with Dave assisting me. We got home and went through all of the shots and there were so many awesome ones! We were excited about the images and also about some new lighting setups that we created along the way. (Thanks for the help Dave!)

I often get looked down upon by other wedding photographers due to the equipment I bring along. I apparently bring too much, but I can carry it all by myself at once, so I don't believe it's too much. And, when a shot (posted here) can be created with equipment that I can carry myself, I have a hard time seeing how it's not worth it.

I used one strobe with a grid to get the vignetting. I used portable power to power the strobe. I metered to capture the clouds how they were.

I often get asked by photographers "how do you have enough time to set this stuff up?!" Simple, first I plan ahead, weeks before the wedding, a time to focus on such shots. Second, I learned how to meter quickly. Third, I work better under pressure. Fourth, I keep my clients informed during the shoot precisely what I am doing and how long it will take. (That makes the pressure of time much less for me and them.)

This took about 8 minutes to hook up the light, meter, pose, and shoot. There were many other shots, this was only my favorite out of the bunch.

Post Production
I used raw tools to saturate the color and change the greenery to a more rust-like color. (clients request) I also pushed the vignetting a little further (on the bridge wood) than my strobe/grid had done. It did a fine job on her dress though.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wedding photography can be difficult, but only at first.


I have been writing lengthy replies about wedding photography over on today. I figured I would share a few ideas about shooting weddings that may (or may not) help you get over common issues that arise. At the end of this post I would love to hear common issues you may be having at your weddings and maybe myself or someone else can chime in with some positive thoughts on how to overcome the issue. Here we go:

1. What do I charge for my wedding photography?
This really depends on what sort of weddings you want to be shooting. If you are just starting out (first 5-8 weddings) then you will want to keep your prices fairly low. This has little to do with what your images (prints) are worth or the quality of your images, it's only a simple fact that if you say you charge $500 then you will get to shoot low-grade weddings that will only pay such a price. You are in control of the weddings you are shooting based on the prices that you charge. If you charge $5,000 then I'm betting that the wedding will be in a really nice church. with nice decorations, and an expensive wedding dress. If you do not feel ready to shoot something so extravagant, don't charge that price yet.

2. I was shooting a wedding and several other people had cameras next to me shooting. It's in the contract that this isn't supposed to happen. What do I do?
Yell at everyone and tell them to put their stupid toy cameras away for you can do your job. (Don't forget to mean mug them too!) Of course this isn't what to do. It may feel okay to ask those people to put their cameras down. But, they don't know you and will feel like you are "telling them what to do." People don't enjoy feeling this way. So, what does one do?

Well, we do know that if the bride or groom says something that they will immediately put their toy cameras down. So, take the opportunity to put into the mind of the bride and groom what is happening for they will take care of this issue for you. Chances are they want them to put their cameras down as well because they paid you to shoot the images and they have no idea where to look and when. But, how do we tell them this without bringing up "it's in the contract" as if you are now a lawyer instead of a photographer or sounding like you are demanding them to take care of something that they think you should be taking care of?

Simple. Use proper wording to allow them to understand what is going on and to make it sound as if you are not being demanding even though you are. You don't have to sound or look demanding to get your way.

So, what can be said? A few things have worked for me. One is "when other peoples flashes go off, my flash also goes off which mean I will get a dark picture every time." The first time I used this I was only being honest, but they jumped quickly and everyone else's cameras were now in their pockets.

Another thing that may be said is "I shot this group shot 7 times and in each image different people are looking in different directions because of so many cameras in the room..." Then shut your mouth. Silence is incredibly effective in allowing the other party to respond. You shouldn't need to say anything more.

3. Children are running all around and distracting me from taking images. The run into my frame!
I don't know what to tell you, that totally sucks. I'm kidding of course. Kid's are like creatures from another planet. They see the world from only a few feet off the ground and contract agreements don't mean anything to them. But, what does matter to a kid? Toys. Imagination. Having fun, and being disruptive.

If someone else isn't controlling the kids, you may in a gentle manner. I never think about a parent being angry for me doing this because I treat the kids with the utmost respect. If they run into my frame, I use that opportunity to allow the kid (this works with DOGS as well!) to do something totally stupid while in my frame and snap a shot while everyone is looking at the kid and laughing. It usually turns out to be a great conversation starter in a person wedding album. "Remember when little Adam hid behind everyone then stuck his head between uncle James legs! Look, here is a picture of it!" Little Adam will never forget THAT image!

See, that is the photographers job at the wedding; it's to CAPTURE the happenings of that special day. This is why weddings are considered Event Photography. It's an event, and it's our job to capture it not only as-it-is, but even better that it actually is.

Back to the annoying kid in our frames. After you shoot the silly image, say something like "OH WOW now THAT was funny! What a fun kid! Okay, let's get back to this group shot..." Since everyone is in a good mood and you just alerted to everyone that you are cool with what is happening and are having a good time at the wedding, SOMEONE will take care of the kid for you. This all can take place in 30 seconds. Compared the story I just painted to being upset and telling someone to remove the child and making yourself look like you are not enjoying your job at their wedding, which I'm sure would take longer than 30 seconds and would kill moral. Plus, the kid probably won't be screaming and kicking for the next half hour because they were forced to do something.

So, if you don't know what to do, remember to not FORCE kids to do things. It simply doesn't work.

Okay, so those were 3 question with 3 long winded answers. What things do you run into at your weddings?

I shot the above image last Saturday in downtown Chicago.
Canon 40D - Canon 24-70 f/2.8 (shot at 26mm)
HDR + Post Processing
Base Exposure: 1/6th - f/7.1 - ISO200

Friday, October 2, 2009

Getting Paid For Your Photography

JimmyD recently posted over in the Supershoots forum a video of Harlan Ellison talking about getting paid as a writer as apposed to getting exposure or publicity.

You can watch this short (3:24) video of Ellison talking about a situation where this arose and his thoughts on it.

Watch it a second time and replace the word "writers" with "photographers."

I think of it this way, my mortgage company doesn't accept publicity or exposure for payment, and neither does McDonalds. So, why should I?

This image is of Roberta looking amazing as usual! Thanks Roberta!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Oops!! Missing Links!

I was reorganizing my images online the other day and created a few missing links on this blog. I went back and fixed all but one which I deleted and will have to re-upload once I'm back at the home base.

I hope no one got hurt and that everyone is OK!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I've seen this picture before!

I was reading a photography post where there was an awesome image posted. It only took a few replies before someone pointed out "hey, isn't that idea getting old?"

Well, isn't the ideas of most photographers getting old? I mean, seriously, the image I posted on this post is pretty cool. (Well, I thought so or I wouldn't have posted it.) I'm definitely not breaking any barriers here. But, I wasn't trying to either. If photographers had to shoot something totally unique, there would be a lot less photographers in the world today. But, that is okay. Sometimes people put down another photographers work because it looks like some other photographers work they have seen before, but don't speak too soon, I'm sure your work looks just like someone else's. Maybe you only have not run into them yet. I'll assume I don't do anything special or different until it's widely accepted that it is. But, since I'm not going for that I'm guessing I'll never hear such a thing.

When I'm shooting I have a fairly clean slate in my mind. I know what the model looks like, and maybe saw some clothes she has, and know the relative location where we will be shooting, but beyond that I don't think too much about what I'm exactly going to be shooting. This works for me. It may not work for you.

I could image what a headache it would be for another photographer to be in my shoes. But, I couldn't really do that well in the shoes of a photographer who plans out too many specific details. Saying that I guess I'm sort of a go-with-the-flow sort of shooter. I'm a go-with-the-flow type of guy in general. So, I think that's probably a good thing that my personality and my shooting style match up. At least I'm not trying to be something I'm not. Wow, did I just blog a post of therapy for myself? Probably sounds like it, but what's more important is for you, the reader, to clear your mind and shoot with purpose and accuracy. If you want to claim the title of photographer, be the best photographer that you can be and nothing less!

The above is Dalida. She rocked this image a few weekends ago for me. Thanks Dalida!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It's like sooo 1985!

Tonight I went to see my cousin play high school football. Everywhere I looked kids were wearing 80's clothing. It totally freaking ROCKED! Girls wearing tight pink jeans with multi colored flourescent high tops and sweet haircuts! I was excited because this is the era I grew up in and I actually thought it was pretty sweet. ;D

I was in Atlanta last weekend and had to shoot the make up artist. She was a sheer bubble gum 80's rocker chic in this outfit...doesn't get much better that that!

I hope everyone is having a great week. Keep shooting!

Friday, September 4, 2009

New childrens book on digital retouching!

I have been extremely busy retouching and thought "isn't there a machine that could do this work for me?!" Then, I thought of Paul Bunyon. Then, I thought "maybe I could write and sell a childrens book! Here is the idea:

Animated adaptations about two legendary folk heroes. "The Legend of Joshua Bunyon" relates the adventures of the mighty retoucher, a man who, as legend has it, could stand in Illinois and cast a shadow all the way across Missouri to Kansas. "The Legend of John Henry" is the story of the greatest computer-programmer of all time. Joshua takes the challenge of retouching faster and cleaner than computer retouching software can, in an test of man against code.
[original here]

The lady posted today is Angel. She left me quite a positive comment on a photography website the other day and I wanted to share.

""Josh is a AMAZiNG PHOTOGRAPHER 2 Work with! One of my favorites!!!!
Just thought I would let everyone know that! And, once again thanks 4 the new images!!!
YOU FREAkiN ROCK!!!!****
Can't wait to work together again=)

...amazing AND freaking rock. Sweet!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Learning Photography Lighting

A person wrote me the other day asking for advice about learning lighting for photography. They said something to the effect of 'i'm looking into getting strobes and a softbox...' and I immediately thought 'Whoa! Slow down!'

When it comes to lighting it seems to makes sence to start with something simple and then work into more complex situations. So, what lighting is simple?

Well, lighting in general is fairly simple once you understand how it works. For this post I'm not going to go into any math or ratios, but I am going to go through a few steps in learning lighting.

First of all it's probably a good idea to start with natural light.  This is a great intro into seeing natural light the way god intended it. Go out and shoot natural light. Shoot in direct sunlight, shade, side lighting, back lighting, butterfly, etc...shoot until you get great dynamic images that get attention. Once you do, you have just mastered one light!

Now, pull out your reflectors and start bouncing the light around. Figure how to shoot great images with your reflector and natural light. Once you get the feel of controlling the given light, you will be ready to have a light source of your own!

Now, get one strobe and learn what heigth, angle and intensity you need to make good images indoors. Use the knowledge you learned in dealing with natural light and a reflector to your strobe. You will quickly learn how to use your one strobe.

Next, get a second strobe. This is the point where you will need to start measuring the light intensity with a light meter.

In my next post I will go over some basic ideas on using one strobe outdoors and two strobes indoors and outdoors. 

Until then, happy shooting! 

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Photography with Fire!

If you like fire, hand drums, hippie'ish style dancing and the smell of marijuana in the air, then this is a place for you! This is the first time for me to hang out at a Pyrotechniq event. It was fairly entertaining. I mean, people are freaking EATING FIRE! How is that not fun to watch!?

This event was held August 5th of this year (2009) in Chicago. There are going to be 3 more held this year. Check out the link above for dates and times.

People ate fire, spit fire, hula hooped with fire, had sword fights with fire, bo staffs, chains, whips, and just about any sort of weapon with fire on the end of it was spinning around.

Many photographers were there with tripods, flashes and all sorts of other cool toys. I shot hand held with no flash because I was late testing my ability to shoot hand held at slow shutter speeds. Most were shot between 1/30th - 1/80th at ISO 1600.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Photography Inspiration

Today I was thinking "what inspires people to shoot certain things?" Sometimes photographers will copy something they have already seen. Or, capture it in a slightly different way. Some simply guess and hope for the best. Others draw up every detail and create what was in their mind.

Although I have a folder on my computer that is also on synced to my PMP of images of other photographers that I really like, I have not once went to shoot and looked at them. I have ideas in my mind, but they are always foggy at best. Usually a generalization of an idea. I like this and it works for me. I believe it's because I have a small foundation for what I want to shoot, but I don't tie myself down with too many details for during the shoot things can move more naturally.

Just about every shoot I have done in the past few years feels very winged. I try and make the best with whatever situation, equipment, clothing, and weather was available at that time.

I'm slowly getting better at looking around and seeing what would and wouldn't look great in an image. I'd imagine most things could look great in an image if it were captured in some interesting eye-catching way.

I think it would be fun to get a few photographers together and all shoot the same scene, like this old loading dock in the image above, and see how each person interprets it. Of course the other photographers couldn't watch what the others are doing because that would alter the natural creativity of each person during their time to shoot.

In the end everyone could compare and discuss their ideas during their shoot and what it looks like in the end. I believe this could quickly open doors for everyone into thinking about capturing/creating images in a different way.

Then, everyone go re-shoot the same scene together and see what comes of it. I don't have time for any of this, but it seemed like a great idea. If you do it, e-mail me results and I will blog it! :D

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Why focusing and recomposing is a not-so-great habit in photography.

(Any image in this post that is hard to on it. It will load a full resolution version that you can see much better.)

I see this done often and I still do it myself from time to time. When one tilts their camera upwards to focus on the eyes of the model then tilts the camera back down to compose the image. Seems harmless, and it may be harmless if you are shooting at f/8'ish to f/16 or more.

(remember shooting at apertures of around f/8 - f/16 and more results in a wide depth of field whereas shooting from f/5.6 - f/1.8 results in a shallow depth of here for a visual example)

Now let's take a look at what happens if we are shooting between f/1.8 to f/5.6'ish.

Imagine holding the camera in this diagram that I spent 20 minutes drew up real quick for reference. We point the camera up to the eyes of our subject, which are 6 feet away. Perfect, the eyes are in focus. Since we are shooting in open apertures, lets say for this example, f/2.8, we have the eyes in focus and about 2 or 3 inches on each side of the orange line going through our subject is in focus. Beyond those few inches things are out of focus. Now, let's keep that focus point and tilt our camera down for our three quarter shot.

Now that we have tilted our camera, notice where the orange line of focus on our subject has moved to. It's not focused on the eyes anymore. Now our focus has moved several inches behind the eyes. Remember those few inches we had? Now the eyes are out of focus.

In the image of Tiffany above I did this very thing. Here is a close up of the focusing for you can see this error in action. CLICK on this image to load a bigger/clearer version!